Private Project

The Road to Galena

"The Road to Galena" chronicles the journey of a man in search of personal fulfillment rather than traditional success. Cole Baird (Ben Winchell) seemingly has it all—a beautiful wife, a thriving career, an expansive home, an array of lavish possessions. Yet beneath this veneer lies a man ensnared by his surroundings, falling ever behind in the pursuit of his life's true calling. Cowed by the weight of his father's expectations, he abandoned his true love, his closest friend, and the gratifying simplicity of small-town life to embark on a legal career, harboring a distant hope of one day returning.

As he ascends the ranks within Washington's elite social circles, becoming the youngest managing partner in a powerful D.C. law firm's history, Cole is confronted with a momentous choice: continue down the path of success in a life he never desired or return to the nurturing community that shaped him.

  • Joe Hall
  • Joe Hall
  • Eric Bannat
    Sollers Point, I Used to Be Darker
  • Marty Eli Schwartz
    The Leisure Seeker, Night at the Museum, The Pink Panther
  • Ben Winchell
    Key Cast
    "Cole Baird"
    Max Steel, Feed
  • Will Brittain
    Key Cast
    "Jack Miller"
    The Forever Purge, Let Him Go, Kong: Skull Island
  • Aimee Teegarden
    Key Cast
    "Elle Shepard"
    Rings, Friday Night Lights
  • Alisa Allapach
    Key Cast
    "Sarah Baird"
    The 15:17 to Paris
  • Jay O. Sanders
    Key Cast
    "John Baird"
    JFK, The Day After Tomorrow
  • Jill Hennessy
    Key Cast
    "Teresa Baird"
    Law and Order, Crossing Jordan
  • Jennifer Holliday
    Key Cast
    Dream Girls (on Broadway)
  • Margaret Colin
    Key Cast
    "Margaret Kenney"
    Independence Day
  • Robert Cinquegrana
    Executive Producers
  • Erich Schwartz
    Executive Producers
  • Andrew Woodin
  • Clark Vandergrift
    Director of Photography
  • Christopher Cibelli
    Panama, Congo, The Mentalist
  • Erik Boring
    Production Designer
    Jackie, Snowden, Jason Bourne, The Avengers
  • Sig De Miguel
  • Steve Vincent
  • Paco Periago
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 52 minutes 55 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 24, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Montreal Independent Film Festival
    August 22, 2022
    Best Director, Best Cinematographer
  • Prague Independent Film Festival
    Czech Republic
    September 18, 2022
    European Premier
    Grand Prix Winner, Best Director
  • Maryland International Film Festival
    Hagarstown, MD
    United States
    February 18, 2023
    Best Feature Film
Distribution Information
  • Vertical Entertainment
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Joe Hall

Award-winning filmmaker Joe Hall, (Best Director - Prague and Montreal Independent Film Festivals for The Road to Galena, Best Director PEER Awards for The Toast, Here There and Everywhere and Matilda Mench, which also won a CINE Golden Eagle) lives in Washington DC where he and his wife raised four children. Having missed the opportunity for academic training in film, he started a production company in 2006 to learn the craft first hand. The Road to Galena was preceded by six award-wining short films. He has two feature films slated for production in 2024.

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Director Statement

I thought long on how best to tell this story. The underdog, struggling against great odds to achieve his dream, has been told. Though satisfying, it presents the audience with the obvious, for who would not give up a life of hardship to reach for glory? But what if the hero had it all - position, influence, money - and was presented with the option to pursue his quiet aspirations of a simple life? Could he really give it up? What would it do to him inside - and how would he face the future knowing he’d passed on his one chance for true fulfillment?

I was driving my son, Patrick, to a Boy Scout camping trip on Maryland’s Assateague Island. It was March - cold, gray and raining - and I was struck by the natural beauty of the Eastern Shore, with flat farmland punctuated by the inlets and waterways of the Chesapeake Bay. On that drive, the story of Cole Bard coalesced in my mind, a man who felt called to the simple beauty of these small communities and away from the insincere glamour of Washington DC, my hometown. That night, against the cold, wet canvas of our tent, poorly staked on a windy beach, with wet sand stuck to nearly everything we had, I sat with a flashlight pinched between my chin and shoulder and scrawled the outline of The Road to Galena on a scrap of paper. Over breakfast the following morning, with Patrick peering at me over a stack of pancakes, I shared with him Cole's story - to which he replied, “sounds like your life.” When I told him I never wanted to be a farmer, he corrected, “Dad, the story's not about being a farmer.”

Despite the accusations of a highly insightful son, I see this as my story only in that it's universal - one shared by so many who carry with them dreams, often never spoken, and sometimes to the grave.

The era of COVID-19 has prompted many to reassess their lives with the acknowledgement that time is not unlimited. Thoreau once said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Cole Baird's journey shows us the possibilities that come with overcoming that desperation - sharing aloud our aspirations and taking that unthinkable step of living our own lives, instead of the lives of others - and defining success in terms measured only by our happiness and that of those we love.